GIRLS NOT BRIDE: Government of Malawi Announces Increased Commitment to End Child Marriage

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The Government of Malawi has announced a significant step forward in their efforts to end child, early and forced marriages and unions in Malawi. On 21 November 2023, President Chakwera announced his commitment to “build adequate capacity through forward-looking strategies that are harmonised with international policy frameworks”. President Chakwera has committed to work with the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Gender to review laws that are not aligned with the minimum age of marriage and ensure that SADC Model Law is fully considered in the development of the National Strategy to End child marriage. This commitment follows a roundtable discussion hosted by the Girls Not Brides Secretariat, the Clooney Foundation for Justice, Girls Opportunity Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The roundtable discussion, brought together , human rights lawyer Amal Clooney; former First Lady of the United States and Founder of the Girls Opportunity Alliance, Michelle Obama; global philanthropist Melinda French Gates; representatives of Girls Not Brides Malawi, and a high court judge and a representative from the Women’s Lawyers’ Association  to address the pressing issue of child marriage in Malawi. During the productive and insightful deliberations, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney presented a series of advocacy asks, co-created with Girls Not Brides Secretariat and Girls Not Brides Malawi, designed to guide national action to end child marriage.

In a later meeting with the President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi, Ms. Clooney echoed civil society calls to end child marriage leading to President Chakwera’s announcement that his Government will harmonise domestic laws with the standards laid down in the SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriage, as well as review the national budget and allocate adequate resources for the implementation of Malawi’s National Strategy for Ending Child Marriage.

This event underscores an unwavering commitment to ending child marriage and fostering a brighter future for Malawi's girls and young women. It is a testament to the power of collaboration and advocacy of civil society, who continue to play a vital role in the movement to end child marriage.

Quotes from Girls Not Brides Malawi Representatives

"To break the chains of child marriage, let's empower girls through education. Having accessible and affordable education in schools for girls and boys not only imparts knowledge but also gives a form of social protection to girls, fostering social care and transforming the norms that perpetuate child marriage in our communities."

James Gondwe, Girls Not Brides Malawi

"In Malawi, progress against child marriage is commendable, but not fast enough. As the civil society movement, Girls Not Brides Malawi, we urge all stakeholders to accelerate action and urge the government to fulfill their pledge to see an end to child marriage. We invite all in Malawi to unite in this movement to ensure a reality without child marriage for girls in Malawi."

Jenipher Mkandawire

"We have to put girls at the center of all our work. And girls and young women will lead the change. Our commitment remains steadfast in championing women's leadership and tirelessly advocating for the protection of the rights and dignity of adolescent girls."

Faith Phiri

About Girls Not Brides Malawi: Girls Not Brides Malawi is made up of over 90 civil society organisations working to end child marriage in Malawi. Created in 2012, the coalition became an official Girls Not Brides National Partnership in November 2017.

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